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New Practices #85: New Town Studio

The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone either through choice or redundancy

New Town Studio, Harlow, Essex

Founded: August 2011

Main people: Christopher Snow

Where have you come from? Most recently Tony Fretton Architects, where I was project architect for the new Tower Wharf Café opening next Spring, and Tietgens Ærgrelse in Copenhagen which completed earlier this year. Before this I worked at Allies and Morrison, beginning my career with Jonathan Woolf.

What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
We’ve just been shortlisted for the Pylon Design Competition (AJ 14.09.2011), which gave me the impetus to start out on my own and I’m hoping such a high profile competition will prompt some interesting enquiries. The pylon is not easy to categorise in terms of architectural work - and my experience is largely in one-off private houses with some commercial and recently public buildings. I’ve also been experimenting with furniture design so I am genuinely open-minded about the type of work I may get.

What are your ambitions?
In the first year I’ll be focusing on securing work. I’m based in my home town – Harlow new town - and I feel comfortable here, on the outskirts of London, looking in. I see architects such as Jonathan Hendry, with whom I worked one summer at ARU [under Florian Beigel] who make thoughtful, quality projects away from the big cities and this gives me a lot of hope that a fulfilling practice is viable here. At the same time I’m only half hour from Liverpool Street and love London.
How optimistic are you as a start-up practice?
Tony Fretton and Jonathan Woolf have both been very supportive of my decision but have warned of how tough a climate it is. If I keep my overheads down, and adopt strategies to remain nimble until the recession passes I’m optimistic and can be competitive against moreestablished practices with similar collective experience. Being open minded about the commissions I may be offered is essential.

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